'Mystery cat not a new species'

WII says it could be a leopard cat or a hybrid between wild and domestic cat

By Dinsa Sachan
Published: Tuesday 27 March 2012

A mystery cat spotted in the Sunderbans is not a new species, Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has said.

On March 25 pictures of a strange looking wild cat were taken by foresters. Forest officials reported that they had never seen such a cat before and there was a possibility of it being a new species. However, Yadvendradev Jhala, head, Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology Department at WII in Dehradun, says the cat is not a new species. “It has never been captured by camera before and for proper identification, the animal would have to be captured and genetic analysis done," he adds. 

Jhala notes that it could either be a black coloured leopard cat called melanistic leopard cat or a hybrid between wild and domestic cat. "Melanistic leopard cat is the extremely rare version of the leopard cat. The more common form of the wild cat is albino, which is commonly found in the country's forests”.

Tiasa Adhya, wildlife conservationist, says the photo quality is bad and it is very difficult to tell anything about the animal. She agrees with WII's stand on the mystery animal being a melanistic leopard cat. "Toes can provide some clue. They have markings similar to that in leopard cat. Also, the tail is similar to that of a leopard cat. It cannot be a fishing cat because it has a longer tail," she adds.


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